Notebooks and other portable devices differ from desktop systems in three major ways:
- Portable devices are built to be lighter and easier to carry. The smaller form causes components to be placed in closer proximity, which has historically caused technical development to lag behind that of desktops.
- Portable devices often run on battery power. Individual components are engineered to minimize the power consumption in order to maximize battery life.
- Because the devices are built to be carried around, they also must withstand more wear and tear.
Be aware of the following classifications for portable devices:
- A notebook (or laptop) is a portable version of a desktop system. It often has similar hardware and runs similar software.
- A Tablet PC is a notebook that includes a touchscreen to allow input by tapping on the screen, dragging objects, or through handwriting recognition. A stylus is a special pen designed to be used by these touchscreens for input. Tablet PCs might run special versions of the operating system to enable touchscreen input.
- A PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) is a hand-held device, typically with a small touchscreen. A PDA uses special hardware and software that provides basic productivity applications (e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets).
- A smart phone is a phone that includes functions of a PDA. As functions are added to smart phones, the line between smart phones and PDAs is disappearing.
- A netbook is a notebook computer with a smaller form factor (10-11 inch screen or smaller) and custom hardware designed to maximize battery life (from 6-11 hours on a single charge). Originally, netbooks used a special operating system that often did not support all of the features of a normal desktop operating system. Increasingly, netbooks can run a regular version of the operating system, although the reduced hardware might still limit their usefulness to e-mail, word processing, and multimedia. Netbooks typically do not have integrated CD/DVD drives.
The following table describes various components in a notebook system.
|Processor||Processors built especially for laptop computers have lower power consumption requirements and produce less heat than desktop processors.
|Memory||Laptop memory uses SODIMM packages with SDRAM, DDR/DDR2/DDR3, or RAMBUS memory. These modules are sometimes called MicroDIMMs.
Many notebooks come with a base amount of memory built onto the motherboard and one or two additional slots. When replacing notebook memory, make sure the size of modules you purchase are supported by the system.
|Keyboard||Notebook keyboards are smaller than standard keyboards. Keys are often a bit smaller and closer together. Keys such as the number pad and some function keys might be left off, but are accessible by pressing a special Fn key to provide alternate functions for regular keys.
You can use a USB port to connect an external keyboard; some laptops include a PS/2 port.
|Pointing devices||Instead of a mouse, notebooks use one (or more) of the following devices:
|Video||Be aware of the following facts about screens and video cards:
|Networking||Most notebooks include built-in networking devices such as an Ethernet port, a modem port, wireless, Bluetooth, and/or infrared.
|Internal hard disks||Internal hard disks are typically 2.5" and very thin compared to desktop hard disks. PATA, SATA, and increasingly solid state drives are used in portable devices.|
|Docking station||A docking station lets you use the notebook systems as a desktop system. The docking station includes special ports that connect to the back of the notebook and let you use normal-sized external mouse, keyboard, monitor, and speakers.|
|Additional devices||Portable devices typically do not have free internal bus slots that you can use to add components to the system. Instead, components are typically added in the following ways:
Be aware that using additional devices with your laptop system can increase heat output and discharge the battery faster.